So, a little while ago I went to Eastport, Maine. It bills itself as the first place in the United States to see the sun each day, and it certainly is the closest to where God sets his watch. Well worth the trip, TheGirl and I made lobster pigs of ourselves at the Eastport Chowder House, which we closed down. Friendly real Yankees. Then watched a gorgeous Sunrise.
Eastport is a pretty little town, once a busy port but now they have tourists in the summer and the rest of the year just take in each others' washing. A pleasant, tasty breakfast at the Liberty Cafe and walking over the town. We ended up in front of the Peavey Memorial Library.
Before which stands, as one might expect,
Being from down South and always interested in artillery displayed, I thought I'd wander over to see if it was a trophy from Tredegar, or a Yankee veteran.
I was surprised to see that it was neither. Aside from a Boston founder's name and an 1836 date, the tube was devoid of any marks of State or National ownership.
And that got me thinking. Uh oh...
Our master's latest push to disarm his subjects concentrates on what he calls "weapons of war", which have "no business on our streets". Funny, that "our", coming from a man who will never again walk a street unguarded. And the Government's weapons of war seemed to be perfectly fine on the streets of Ludlow and Detroit, and for special occasions like Katrina and Kent State. Not to mention Libya and Syria. Or just riding around in ordinary police cars.
But I riot. Back on the line, weapons of war.
When our Republic was new, a bronze muzzle loading cannon was the most deadly weapon there was. Unlike an infantry musket, cavalry horse, or M-4, there was and is no use for artillery other than killing people and smashing their buildings.
This six pounder was the cutting edge and definition of a "weapon of war".
In pretty much every time in every culture with a coast, the ship of war is
the most complex, expensive, and deadly thing a society's brains and
technology can combine to make. Salaminia, Sao Martinho, Victory, Gloire, Freidrich der Grosse, Nimitz- all embodiments of the top end of an entire country's ability to do violence.
And in 1836 the killing end of the warship was artillery just like this.
What does this have to do with the Second Amendment?
Our Betters assert that the Second Amendment does not apply to "weapons of war" and they always advert to artillery as an example. They read the initial clause to mean that although "weapons of war" are not the arms referred to in the Amendment and are not protected to the people, the Amendment's purpose is to insure that State and Federal reserve forces are able to have, um, "weapons of war". Go figure.
'Ware riot again. Anyway, in 1836 the Second Amendment was 45 years old. Quite a few of the men who adopted and ratified it were still around. I'll submit that they knew what it meant.
And in 1836, someone- some private citizen- maybe a few yards away at America's oldest ship chandler- (still in business today, with a lovely line of yellow leather gloves) laid down gold and bought this pure "weapon of war".
In fact, anyone with the cash could have gone into any big port in the country and bought just as good a warship as the Navy's best. The seas were infested with pirates, armed ships were ordinary components of commercial voyages. You didn't need permission, or registration, or anything else but the money or credit.
Commercially produced ships of the era were fully war capable. Golden Hind was private property. Before 1600 or so, national navies were largely formed of commandeered private ships and their civilian crews. American, British, and French privateers- privately owned and operated ships of war- were very active in the World Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. On occasion East Indiamen and Mail Packets fought and captured Naval vessels.
A quarter of a century into this gun's life was the apotheosis of the cash and carry weapon of war. An insurgent organisation used its money and credit to buy high tech ships of war on individual private account, and then swept the seas clear of the second largest commercial fleet on the planet.
And when the dust settled, the United States' position was not that John Laird
shouldn't have sold warships to private individuals, but that the yard shouldn't have sold them to known representatives of active belligerents knowing that the buyers would use them as "weapons of war" in violation of local neutrality law.
I don't know when it became unlawful in the United States for an individual to just put down money and buy a navy for himself, if in fact it is. I know the various neutrality acts interfered with the ability of nations to buy warships, and applied the Alabama Claims' rules to sales to those acting for governments. And I know that British, French, and American shipyards supplied most of the warships, and nearly all the capital warships, to much of the world on a straight up cash and carry basis until after 1914. After 1918, the cut price sale, loan, or gift of surplus ships in government hands as a tool of policy killed the business.
Private possession and sale of artillery in the United States wasn't Federally regulated until 1968 (thanks Tam), which means that when this gun was 131 years old an American could still buy and own a destroyer, battleship, or aircraft carrier for his own use if he could find one for sale.
And I suspect he still can, if the artillery and torpedoes are properly NFA registered.
So no matter what the bien pensants assert, there's no indication from our past that the Second Amendment is meant to confine "weapons of war" to government possession.
This little cannon proves it.